GDC How To Talk About Video Games Today: Supplementary Resources

The following materials, links and references are offered as supplementary resources to the panel discussion entitled 'Under Fire: How to Publicly Discuss & Promote Games' (and also under the title 'How to Talk About Games Today') held at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California in March of 2019.

The formal description of the talk, as per the program, was as follows: "In yet another year where video games have been blamed for violence, the World Health Organization proposed including gaming disorder in the International Classification of Disease, and news media implicate video games as a leading factor in unemployment, how do games industry professionals talk about the work they do? This fast paced, information rich panel provides attendees with the tools to have a meaningful dialogue about the games industry. The talk aims to provide industry professionals with the fodder they need to competently reply to those opposed to the work of the games industry. Much more pointed and logical than a rant, this panel aims to equip industry professionals with the knowledge to explain why many of the trending opposition to the games industry are misaligned."

The panelists were:

  • Mia Consalvo, Professor of Communication Studies and Canada Research Chair for Game Studies and Design, Concordia University
  • Roger Altizer, Professor of Entertainment Arts & Engineering, Director of the GApp Lab, Associate Director EAE, University of Utah
  • Lindsay Grace, Associate Professor and Knight Chair of Interactive Media, University of Miami
  • Andrew Phelps, Professor of Art & Design, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • You can find a video recording of the panel discussion freely available in the GDC Vault, and the slides presented as a part of the talk are available here:

    Below, each panelist was asked to recommend 3 key resources that are useful in understanding the debate on games with respect to violence, health, and more

    Lindsay's Resources on Moral Panics and Historical Awareness

    By Lindsay:

    Works cited in Lindsay's Presentation

    Mia's Resources on Games & Violence

    [This book is one of the most comprehensive reviews I’ve ever seen covering the literature on games and violence, reviewing hundreds of studies. It also has a chapter on the potentials of pro social games to facilitate change.] Barrie Gunter, 2016, Does Playing Video Games Make Players More Violent? London: Palgrave Macmillan Press.

    [A popular article with links to scholarly sources that provides a good overview to this issue.] Christopher Ferguson, February 16, 2018, “It’s time to end the debate about video games and violence” The Conversation, available at

    [This article suggests that only 15% of scholars support the view that violent video games ‘contribute to youth assaults.’ It suggests one reason for differing opinions may be a generational divide, with older scholars holding more negative views about video games more generally.] Christopher Ferguson & John Colwell, June 2017, “Understanding Why Scholars Hold Different Views on the Influences of Video Games on Public Health” Journal of Communication 67(3) 305-327. PDF LINK.

    [This research article offers evidence from players themselves of the things they are doing with games and the positive ways they have been influenced by them.] Jeroen Bourgonjon et al, 2015, “Players’ perspectives on the positive impact of video games: A qualitative content analysis of online forum discussions” New Media & Society 18(8) 1732-1749. PDF LINK.

    [This is a personal account of the positive impact of games on one person’s life] Nat Dish, September 17, 2017, “Videogames Saved My Life, Probably” Videodame, available at

    Roger's Resources on Games & Health

    It can be difficult to find and to synthesize the many articles on how games have a positive impact on us. The following articles are meta-reviews or a study of studies. The authors examine many articles, analyzing and reviewing all the findings to come up with summaries that provide a bird’s eye-view of the state of the research. Oftentimes meta-reviews can help us see the overall picture or trend of research.

    1. This extensive report looks at a large number of studies to examine the positive effects games have on the mental health and well-being of children. It focuses on how games have a positive emotional impact, promote healthy relationships and grows social capital, as well as promotes self esteem. It is a great go to resource that offers an easy to use executive summary of all the research. It is an accessible collection of research on how games can be good for children.

    Johnson, D., Jones, C., Scholes, L., & Carras, M. C. (2013). Videogames and wellbeing: A comprehensive review. Melbourne, Australia: Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. Retrieved from

    2. Rather than seeing games as a pastime, this study published in the American Psychological Association's (APA) top journal, American Psychologist, provides a meta review of many articles indicating videogame play (including games labeled as violent shooters) may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception, along with other positive benefits.

    “Video Games Play May Provide Learning, Health, Social Benefits.” Accessed March 19, 2019.

    3. It appears unlikely that a single variable governs or causes problematic videogame play in children. From in-game assets to game timers to parental supervision to the weather all affect how children interact with games. Nonetheless, good theoretical and empirical work is being done to understand both why children start and keep playing games as well as what might cause problematic gaming behavior.

    Van Rooij, Antonius J., Rowan Daneels, Sien Liu, Sarah Anrijs, and Jan Van Looy. “Children’s Motives to Start, Continue, and Stop Playing Video Games: Confronting Popular Theories with Real-World Observations.” Current Addiction Reports 4, no. 3 (September 1, 2017): 323–32.

    4. This paper offers a meta-analysis of 54 serious digital game studies for healthy lifestyle promotion findings that serious games have positive effects on healthy lifestyles. Long-term effects occurred for all aspects measured other than behavior change, which is notoriously hard, on only need to look at dieting or smoking cessation as an example.

    Information, National Center for Biotechnology, U. S. National Library of Medicine 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda MD, and 20894 Usa. A Meta-Analysis of Serious Digital Games for Healthy Lifestyle Promotion. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK), 2014.


    Andy's Resources on Future Advocacy

    The most critical and important point here is that developers and designers of games have a critical voice in this discussion. If we profess to care about this medium, to aspire to games as art, and to hold ourselves to the highest academic and professional standards, then that also means using our knowledge and expertise to help the public better understand these issues and make informed decisions. The following are a list of organizations and groups that can help facilitate information gathering, discussions, statements, research, and reporting on these issues:

  • The Higher Education Video Game Alliance: a world-wide organization representing games in higher education, with over 510 different colleges and universities represented through its members. HEVGA is a 501(c)6 non-profit. A key resource of the organization is the participation of the HEVGA Fellows, a collection of the most recognized experts in the academy dealing directly with games and interactive media. HEVGA is active in representing games in higher education, and in issuing statements that promote careful study and methodical research on issues surrounding games and their impact. (disclosure: Phelps currently serves as president of this organization)

  • The International Game Developer's Association: As an international organization, the IGDA is a U.S.-based 501(c)6 non-profit professional association and a global network of collaborative projects and communities of individuals from all fields of game development - including programmers and producers, designers and artists, as well as writers, business people, QA team members, localization experts, and everyone else who participates in any way in the game development process. The IGDA is active in promoting key issues and discussion points in the popular media and in representing the games industry.

  • The Entertainment Software Association: The ESA is the lobbying organization that represents the US games industry. As a lobbying organization, it's own claims and statements need to be carefully examined, but it is also often a key source of information given the access they have to corporate members, vast amounts of data, and to the inner workings of policy and politics.

  • The Level Up Report: The Level Up Report is a great resource for knowing more about how games large and small are having positive impacts on education, learning, and culture. It is put together by Mark DeLoura, who was formerly at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the Obama White House. It is a low-volume list, approximately once a month or so.

  • General research

    The following is a biblography of resources generally focused on these topics. This a shortlist offered by the panelists outlining must read rezearch. There are others, but we feel this is a good place to start when you're looking to understand the debate from a peer-reviewed academic perspective:




    Easy to read overview of the arguments:

    Addiction: Well Recognised Studies:

    Pro-Game Addiction:

    Anti-Game Addiction

    Violence and Games:

    Pro Violence-Video Game Link:

    Anti Violence-Video Game Link:


    Games and Society: